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Since the European Digital Accessibility Directive came into force in 2016, a lot has changed in this area. In the Netherlands, too, companies, organisations and governments have woken up. For example, people with hearing disabilities are taken into account by transcribing videos, websites are optimised for screen readers and even the CAPTCHA takes accessibility into account.

Unfortunately, we are far from there yet, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. In practice, too often developers and marketers are not aware of this, or there is simply a lack of motivation. With the following 5 reasons why digital accessibility should be on top of your priority list, we want to motivate teams to take that extra step. Together, we can make the internet accessible for everyone.

1. Government mandates digital accessibility

One of the most obvious reasons for including digital accessibility is that the government simply requires you to. At the time of writing, the Dutch legislation applies to websites published from 23 September 2018. Websites that went online before this date have until 23 September 2020 to get their digital accessibility in order.

For applications, more time has been given. The deadline for apps is 23 June 2021. By ensuring that websites and apps are accessible before this date, you can avoid fines and possible lawsuits. A good starting point for accessibility are the WCAG web guidelines. The problem is that the guidelines themselves are not accessible. Here you will find an overview of the guidelines with clear explanations.

2. You increase the audience of your platform

Increasing the audience of an app, website or webshop is on the list of almost every marketer. By making a website digitally accessible, you automatically ensure that it is of interest to a wider audience. The figures don’t lie. The Netherlands has more than 250,000 people with a visual impairment and over 1.5 million deaf and hard of hearing.

3. Improve the SEO of your website

It’s no secret that accessible code is also the kind of code that scores well in the eyes of Google and other search engines. After all, the rule of thumb is ‘What’s good for the user is good for Google’. Earlier we wrote about making a website accessible and easy to find. The following factors contribute to both an accessible website and a website that can be found well in Google:

Transcribing a video. It helps a lot to put the text in the video itself as well as transcribed on the website. That way, people can read it at their own pace and it will be picked up by Google.
Alternative descriptions and anchor texts. By adding descriptive text to links and images, screen readers can easily translate this into text.

Using semantic HTML. This way of using HTML contributes to a clear site structure. It makes it easier for screen readers to navigate through a text.
Content lists and breadcrumbs. Both make it possible for the user to navigate easily through a page or website.

4. More customer loyalty

Digital accessibility not only has a lot of practical advantages, it also has an impact on customer loyalty and a company’s brand image. A study published on Forbes showed that 88% of the respondents indicated that they are more loyal to companies that have social responsibility high on their agenda. Not only does digital accessibility broaden your target group, it also creates more loyalty among them.

5. The demand for accessibility is increasing

Due to the ageing population, the group of Dutch people with a hearing or visual impairment will grow in the coming years. As a result, the demand for digital accessibility will also increase. By taking accessibility into account when developing digital projects now, these projects will be interesting for an even larger audience in the future.

How do I make my website digitally accessible?

A lot of reasons to apply digital accessibility. Good news, it does not have to be as complicated as it sounds. The Accessibility Desk’s knowledge bank contains various practical tips that can be applied immediately.

The most efficient way to work on digital accessibility is to have your project tested by different target groups with disabilities. The Accessibility Desk helps companies to take steps towards an accessible product. We are happy to help you with tailor-made advice on digital accessibility.

Vincent van Brakel

Vincent van Brakel researches the accessibility of websites and apps for Digitaal Toegankelijk. Vincent also writes about everything that has to do with digital accessibility and shares practical tips on